In Off-on-a-Tangent Park
(2018/2019 - El Frenzy - UK)
If you try and look up who Bing Selfish is, you will only find a self description on his website claiming "Bing Selfish, poet, musician, filmmaker, dramatist, dramaturge, drama queen, a identified musical prodigy...." When I asked the so called label owner (at El Frenzy) I was quickly diverted and that person slipped away as quickly as possible. Perhaps Bing is the label manager as well as being (ha ha ha) the prolific songwriter and jack of all trades he has become. Nevertheless, the mystery may continue forever about his real name, but all we need to know really, is how good his music is. 'In Off-on-a-Tangent Park' is his umpteenth recording.
Bing has a perfect concoction of theatrical, humorous, social, and political presentation, so nicely put into song and lyric, with just the right amount of camp and coziness. All in a lo-fi manner that is all his own, the music sometimes reminds one of a pile-up of Captain Sensible and a one bedroom studio version of Andy Partridge. There is also the distinct sparse but charming atmosphere of Philip Moxham (Young Marble Giants/The Gist). To be sure, this exact sound is Bing's trademark and he wears the deceivingly disheveled suit with pride. What often has the sound quality of a 4-track cassette recording, is simply the formula that this artist has chosen to work with. One might imagine his music in a more polished and lush production, but it would not have the same mojo. So with that, the strength of the material is what continually shines and attracts the fans over and over again. If basic in sound quality, the result is anything but average or ordinary.
With the many releases this man has given, the fountain has not even come close to drying up. The flow is possibly as strong as it has ever been. Experience, the wisdom that age brings, or just raw talent? I vote on all of the above. It is also clear that Mr. Selfish has both feet on the ground, ears to present and past news, and eyes on reality. The material he presents in the 13 tunes here is varied, yet very socially aware, such as 'Fracking'. No mystery what this song is about. None of his tunes go on very long. No extended epics, but just enough time to state his subject matter and insightful lyrics, in a whimsical decorum. Nothing complex, nothing overblown, just using his own stamp on simplistic song and instrumental form, to say what he feels a need to sing. This is also a combination that allows vast creation and instant outcomes (and nice conclusion). Bing Selfish makes music that is witty, concise, and attractive in a reveal of issues, that mostly nudge our wishful lives and take us back to the dreams we had in our youth. With a folky almost campfire style oftentimes, Bing sprinkles us with storytelling in fine form.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 8 - 9 - 2019